My sweet friend, Gertrude, died yesterday morning. On the day before she passed away, I had visited her in the assisted living center where she had lived the last few months. When she saw me, she gave me a slight smile. I could see weariness across her face. When I asked if she was tired, she nodded her head in affirmation.
The thing is, as difficult as these last months have been for Gertrude as she has dealt with complications of diabetes, she has accepted the challenges with grace. She had left behind the home where she had created so many memories. When her little finger and toe had to be amputated, we teased about her not needing a pinkie ring or a toe ring. When she had to move from a one-bedroom apartment of a retirement community to a single room at an assisted living center, she shrugged and said, “I know it’s for the best even though it’s hard.” I watched her face each transition with courage.
In thinking back, I realize that Gertrude knew two very important things that many people, including many older adults, do not know. First, she knew that her family loved her dearly. Her eyes twinkled every time she talked about her daughters or her grandchildren. She loved being with her siblings and extended family to play cards… but mostly to laugh and tell stories. Her family loved her well, and she was blessed in knowing it. They made hard times somehow easier.
Second, Gertrude knew that her eternal future was secure. She had a deep faith in God that touched the lives of those who came in contact with her. It was not a flashy kind of faith, but a deep-abiding belief in her Creator and in his promises. She was prepared to die.
Since Gertrude’s death, I have thought a lot about those two things… knowing that your family loves you dearly and knowing that your future is secure in God’s promises. How I wish that every older adult could know them, too.